You probably pay £75 per month and still never go.
Around the time that ‘Friends’ persuaded everyone that constantly going to coffee shops was a thing, resulting in the invasion of Starbucks, the rise of Costa, and the transformation of the price of coffee from about 50p to somewhere north of £2.50, everyone decided that they ought to join a gym.
Gym-going before and after work, and the wearisome prospect of a “workout” at the drop of a hat, became the all too familiar claim of absolutely everyone.
But was anyone ever going to a gym, other than for the introductory session and the first, keen, solo session after it? No they weren’t. They were simply sucked into a subscription culture, forking out fifty quid a month for the feeling that they could go and run on a treadmill if they really wanted to, but since it was so cold outside they were quite simply not going to do that ever.
Like the pyramid-selling schemes that Esther Rantzen used to uncover, gym membership relied on everyone secretly colluding in their non-attendance whilst continuing to introduce new members and continuing to pay their own membership fees. Still, it’s nice to belong to a club, and maybe joining a gym offers a certain sense of belonging. A bit like being a train spotter.
A hardy few gymnasia brands persist, and hotels still trade on having a gym, albeit of the preening, pampering kind with a sauna and masseur and a range of skin care products rather than the sort with dumb bells and a boxing ring.
As an alternative, I invite you to join my virtual gym. You pay me just £40 per month to join, and you are not compelled to turn up. In any case, I have no gym equipment, but you won’t need it anyway because, like a real gym, you won’t attend. If you do, you’re welcome to run around my back garden until you get bored or – better still – decide to go for a jog in the open air, for which I won’t charge any additional fees.
Because going to the gym isn’t a thing. It’s just what the leisure corporates would have you believe you ought to do before you pay them another £3 for a coffee. Just like Joey from Friends.